The Mises Institute monthly, free with membership
Volume 15, Number 5
Some scientists boycotted a recent conference that examined the EPA's draconian proposal to
regulate ultra-small soot particles. The sponsoring organization, the Annapolis Center, gets
corporate money. According to Harvard epidemiologist Joel Schwartz, that makes the event look
"like a set-up job."
The Center denies trying to set anybody up, but the EPA's proposal--backed by Dr. Schwartz
who received more than $200,000 from the EPA last year to support his research--is itself a
cleverly-crafted political set-up job.
The EPA wants to impose new air standards that could spell doom for the barbecue grill, the
gas-powered lawn mower, and most large trucks in the country. It says it had no choice in the
and that its proposal is merely a response to a court order.
What it doesn't say is that the court order was obtained by an EPA grantee and political ally,
American Lung Association. For years, the EPA and the Lung Association have played a
good-cop/bad-cop routine, whereby the latter sues the former to make its clean-air regulations
According to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, 19 of the Lung
Association's state and local affiliates received at least $4.1 million in EPA "outreach" grants
from 1990 to 1994, the latest year for which I have data. (Most of the actual operations of the
Lung Association are performed by its state and local affiliates who pay 10 percent of its annual
revenues to the national headquarters, which in turn distributes educational materials to the
affiliates, operates regional fund-raising centers, and lobbies.)
Jonathan Adler has found that in addition to these "outreach" grants the Lung Association
received 34 grants over the past six years from the EPA Office of Research and Development.
The type of "outreach" funded by these federal grants is blatantly political and possibly illegal.
For example, Newsday reported in February 1995 that "the American Lung
running local radio ads attacking U.S. Rep. Daniel Frisa (R-NY)" for his support of the use of
benefit/cost analysis in regulatory decision making. The Hartford Courant similarly
that year that "the American Lung Association has targeted Gary Franks (R-CT) with a series of
radio advertisements...." The Lung Association has filed "sweetheart" lawsuits against the EPA
each year since 1992 for "failing to review the adequacy of national air quality rules for ozone."
The current EPA proposal is the result of such a suit.
After spending tens of millions of dollars over twenty years, the Detroit Metropolitan area
met EPA's clean air standards in 1995. Rather than applaud these efforts, the Lung Association
threatened to sue EPA if it did not deny Southeast Michigan its designation as an emissions
The Lung Association has also been at the forefront of lobbying efforts at the state level to
dozens of states to adopt the "California emissions test" that is designed for the smog-plagued
Los Angeles basin. Dozens of states have opposed the mandate on Tenth Amendment grounds
and have condemned it as ineffective but very costly, potentially imposing thousands of dollars
of repair bills on individual motorists.
Interestingly, the Lung Association has also received $200,000 from Envirotest, Inc., of
Arizona, a manufacturer of emissions testing equipment. In return for the money, the Lung
Association put out public advertisements in Pennsylvania urging that Envirotest be given state
contracts for the California emissions test in that state. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
angry Pennsylvania donors to the Lung Association were "outraged" that it "was paying for ads
for a private enterprise."
Lung Association lobbyists are also behind an effort to have the federal government force 12
Northeastern states and the District of Columbia to require that 10 percent of all vehicles offered
for sale be electric cars. Currently, electric cars run on batteries that last no more than 4-5 hours
and can power an automobile no faster than 50 miles-per-hour.
Why is the EPA paying the Lung Association millions to shill for its statist agenda? Most
because most Americans still perceive the Lung Association as a health "charity" and not just
another appendage of the federally funded environmental lobby. Like so many other charities, the
Lung Association has reoriented itself away from charitable work--it spent only 1 percent of its
budget on direct assistance to lung-disease patients--to politics. Its taxpayer-funded shenanigans
are a case study of how government money has ruined much of America's vaunted charitable
Thomas DiLorenzo is and adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute and teaches Economics at Loyola College